VIERA, Fla. - Adrian Sampson led the visiting Bradenton Marauders to a 4-2 win over the Brevard County Manatees in the series opener between the two teams on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium.
The right-handed Bradenton starter held the Manatees (15-16 second half, 52-46 overall) to two runs, with one coming in the first inning and the other in his seventh and final frame. He fanned seven and did not issue as walk, as he scattered seven hits.
Four of those hits came from the combination of D'Vontrey Richardson and Yadiel Rivera from the top of the lineup as they each recorded singles in their first two at-bats.
After Richardson led off the first with an infield single, he sped around from first to third on Rivera's single to left and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Ramirez.
Greg Hopkins provided the only other run for the Manatees offense, blasting a solo shot to left center field in the seventh. It was his sixth homer of the season.
Most of the Brevard County highlights came on defense, particularly from Richardson out in center field. On his first impressive play, he showed off his strong arm with a throw from the warning track in straightaway center to third base on one hop, just missing Willy Garcia by half a step as the speedster slid in safely with a triple in the second inning.
In the next at-bat, Jose Osuna was robbed of a sure base hit when Richardson laid flat out for a catch in right-center field. Garcia was able to tag up and score on the play, giving Osuna the game-tying RBI.
Benji Gonzalez singled and scored in the third, with Alen Hanson sending him in on a hard smash to the edge of the right field grass to give the Marauders a 2-1 (11-22, 37-64) lead.
Two more runs scored in the fifth for Bradenton with Osuna reaching on an error and then advancing to third on a single by Elias Diaz, which also put Diaz on second thanks to a T.J. Mittelstaedt error. Benji Gonzalez plated Osuna with a sacrifice fly and then Junior Sosa smashed an RBI double to score Diaz.
Brevard's outfield showed itself off again in the sixth, with Mittelstaedt fielding Dan Gamache's single then firing a strike to Yadiel Rivera, who cut the throw off and turned it on to Greg Hopkins to throw out Gamache in his attempt to stretch the hit to a double. Richardson then ended the inning with another horizontal grab on a line drive by Stetson Allie.
Manatees starting pitcher Chad Pierce (5-4, 3.53 ERA) was forced out of the game due to apparent injury with one out in the top of the fifth inning, though all four runs were charged to him. Only two of the runs were earned, but it was enough to hand him the loss. Pierce scattered four hits and did not walk a batter as he recorded one strikeout.
Alex Moore was the first man out of the bullpen as he kept the 'Tees in the game with 3.2 scoreless frames, in which he allowed just one hit and one walk. Dan Meadows also escaped a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the ninth after a hit batter and two walks, inducing a 1-2-3 ground ball and a liner right at shortstop Rivera.
Bradenton's bullpen came out with two near-perfect innings, featuring four strikeouts, no walks and one hit.
Brevard County and Bradenton will continue their series on Friday night at 6:35 p.m. Slated to take the mound are a pair of lefties, as Brent Suter (7-5, 2.60) gets the ball for the Manatees and Joely Rodriguez (1-3, 2.36) will toe the rubber for the Marauders.